Cisco's campaign to destroy a competitor's integrity

Posted on Thursday, July 21st 2011 at 3:37 p.m.

Earlier this week Cisco announced it was laying off 14% of its workforce .  Now an Ars Technica story reveals how Cisco deals with its competitors and makes us a little less sad about the networking company’s decline.

Peter Adekeye is a former Cisco executive who left the company in 2005 to form his own business, Multiven.  Cisco soon accused Adekeye of trading on insider knowledge of its technology and poaching key employees.  In 2008 Adekeye sued Cisco alleging that Cisco’s maintenenance contracts were harming his business.  Adekeye, a British citizen, was denied entry to the US as his lawsuit progressed.  He eventually flew to Vancouver Canada in May 2010 for his deposition.  Two days later, Cisco filed a criminal complaint in California against Adekeye alleging he had illegally accessed Cisco’s network using a Cisco employee’s credentials.

The judge in the criminal case decided that, although Adekeye had been given the loging credentials by the Cisco employee, he was in violation of federal anti-hacking laws.  Canadian authorities were contacted requesting extradition and told that Adekeye was a flight risk. Adekeye was arrested during his deposition by federal Canadian officers.

Two months after the arrest, Cisco settled Adekeye’s lawsuit and dropped all charges against him.  However, the extradition case against Adekeye was not dropped by Canadian authorities, and it took another year before British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon stayed extradition proceedings and rebuked both Canadian and American authorities for a shocking abuse of power in a civil matter.

As the Ars article notes, this is not the first time Cisco has played hard on litigation matters - in a patent infringment lawsuit, Cisco lawyers were accused of portraying the litigant as someone who wanted to fill his pockets with money and take it to Israel.  Let’s also not forget that Cisco has been instrumental in helping the government of China throttle free speech with its “Great Firewall of China.”

It is a disappointing fact of the world that businesses will sometimes stoop extremely low in order to protect their revenue, company, or market share.  Cisco hasn’t been the first and certainly won’t be the last.  One can only hope that the company’s declining revenues will teach its executives to go back to basics and stop trying to smear competitors.

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